“This, then, is how you should pray:” ~ Jesus, Matt 6:9
Having given some history on the Lord’s Prayer, now I’ll talk about the introduction that addresses the One who is being petitioned. To pray is to humbly acknowledge that someone or something can hear and is capable of responding. In the words of Jesus:
Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek or English – at least, not that we know of. Aramaic is a beautiful language. It takes fewer words and says far more than the English. The King James translation comes as a result of translating Aramaic to Greek to Latin, and then to Old English. In Old English, it came out this way: “Our Father who art in heaven.”
If, however, you translate directly from Aramaic into English, this is the core of what you get (from three different translators):
Our Father-Mother, Who art above and within:
O cosmic Birther, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
And my favorite:
Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
What I like about these translations is that they take away the male-humanoid image of God and point to an inconceivable Creator who is not located in a distant kingdom above the clouds. The Creative Force inhabits all of sound, light, and vibration. Physicists should love this image of God since the atom and all of matter consists of vibrating particles.
The Greek word pater (father) has more depth and meaning to it than we give it. As children, we attach a concrete form to the image of father. And it’s difficult to expand beyond the human form/person once it’s embedded in the psyche.
Pater refers to the originator of life. In its truest sense, it refers to our creator/Creator. Originator of life, cosmic Birther, Thou from whom the breath of life comes – these images force us to go beyond the limited human characteristics we consider when we say it. Martin Luther complained that people could say the “Our Father” a thousand times and never taste the true meaning of it. Many of us can say the Lord’s Prayer today and at the same time, make out a list of things to pick up at Walmart.
In the human family, the father portrays a symbolism of the head of the family. A biblical and patriarchal understanding (lacking scientific knowledge) believed the male seed carried the fullness of life. The way we’d say it today, the male alone provided the genetic code from which the embryo developed. This explains partly why “spilling your seed on the ground” was punishable by death in the Old Testament. It was like an abortion in the male context. The woman was merely an incubator for the seed of life to develop.
Who art in heaven.
Where is heaven?
Genesis 1:6-8 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. (NKJV)
Now I’m really confused. As a child, I was taught that the firmament was the land that divided the oceans. But you can’t call the land “heaven.” So I looked up synonyms for firmament and found it actually means “expanse, vault, space, or sky.” Heaven is the fixed space between the waters on earth (waters under the firmament) and the clouds (waters above the firmament).
There’s no water in space above the clouds. God isn’t to be found somewhere above the clouds. Locating our Creator in the space between the clouds and the land would make God much closer to us than many people think. Among us. Around us.
Our Creator, who art in the fixed space between rivers-lakes-oceans and the clouds.
It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as we are accustomed. Ah, but this does: who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration…who fills all space around us and in the particles that vibrate to make up matter and life. Humans are made of atomic matter that vibrates. That means God is not only with us, God is within us.
So you think God is in heaven? The answer is “yes.” Look around and within. Imagine that!
No. Don’t simply imagine it, pray it.